Learn the language! But how?

“Is it worth investing in a book to learn Hungarian if I will stay for only a half year?”

You might ask yourself a similar question when you come to Budapest as an Erasmus student. Well, it depends on how serious your intentions are. Nevertheless, the aim of this article is to provide you to with several alternatives if you would like to postpone the purchase.

Our first recommendation concerns the site Hungarianpod101 and its YouTube channel under the same name. In order to get access to all the language materials you have to register but they only ask for your e-mail address, so the whole process is pretty simple and fast. After activating your account, a long list of ‘once in a lifetime’ offers will show up but you can skip it easily by clicking on ‘no thanks’ at the bottom of the page. Moreover, you can also sign up for the ‘word of the day’ service, so you can grow your vocab day by day, step by step. You can choose between audio and video lessons, all the latter ones are uploaded on YouTube. All audio files and lesson notes can be downloaded free of charge. Before turning to grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary, the lessons cover several topics related to Hungary and Hungarian culture. At first, these information might seem redundant, but understanding cultural connotations is absolutely crucial on the long run, as learning a new language is always also about learning how to behave in a cultural environment yet unfamiliar to you.

The uploaded videos come in two types: they either focus on building vocabulary or on teaching some basic expressions. Some of the videos seem to be a bit strange, or even weird (knowing how to say “the peacock turns around” is certainly not essential to surviving…), however, the latest videos, which feature a young Hungarian girl pronouncing some basic sentences, are actually quite useful.

To sum up, although the structure of HungarianPod101 seems a bit messy and illogical at first, it covers a very wide range of topics and exercises, thus, you’ll find it pretty useful once you get used to it!

After having reviewed the first site, let’s turn to another one which might be useful for you if you would like to learn a little bit more about grammar. Mylanguages.org is an aggregator site for all the languages that you can possibly study starting from Afrikaans to Zulu. The structure is the same for all the languages: you will become acquainted with the basic expressions, such as greetings, but you can also learn more about the grammar.

This site can turn out to be quite useful if you would like to compare the languages. Furthermore, in many cases, you will also find audio and video content that will help you to learn the pronunciation more easily. These extras are quite simply elaborated, but they will do the job.

However, I must also mention that this site is full of advertisements. So, if an excessive amount of flickering and moving banners bothers you, this is probably not for you. I should also point out that the outlay and the colours of the webpage are quite dull, which means that you might have to concentrate a bit harder to stay focused on learning the language. But if you are dedicated, that should be no problem.

All in all, mylanguages.org can be great if you are really interested in learning Hungarian. But keep in mind, the site has some drawbacks, as well. Therefore, it can be concluded that it is a good option for you to get to know the language, but if any of the pitfalls bother you, you should try something else.

Finally, this one is a site where you can learn the basics of Hungarian in a more fun way than just reading sentences. What is different about this site compared to others is that there is a little cartoon with every word or sentence that you learn. So it has a visual aspect as well, and the sentences are written down. And the best is yet to come… When you press the play button there is a voice pronouncing what you are learning. In this way, you can hear the pronunciation. As an Erasmus student, I can say student that it is very important to hear the pronunciation, because it differs a lot from the written words. If somebody teaches me a new word and I write it down it has nothing to do with the correct Hungarian form. Sometimes I even wonder how it is possible that they write something down one way and they say it an entirely other way. The reason why this site is so much fun is because there is always a cartoon attached, which is really helpful since you can learn the writing and the pronunciation at the same time!

It is also possible to play the sound again by pressing another button. You can even download it in mp3 format so you can listen to it for example when you are jogging. If you want you can test yourself by pressing another button which hides the English or the Hungarian sentences. You can choose what kind of category you want to learn, but be aware that what you learn is only the basics. If you already know the basics another site would be better for you. Moreover, you cannot learn the Hungarian grammar with the help of this site; so it is only useful for the first couple of days or weeks after your arrival to Hungary.


by Claire Foellings, Zsuzsanna Linka, and Zsuzsa Varga


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